Texas will not have a lot of time to lick their wounds from last Saturday as they prepare to welcome a talented Oklahoma State team to Austin. Mike Gundy's squad is coming off a bye week and currently sits at 5-0 on the season. The winner of Saturday's matchup will be in strong position for a spot in the Big 12 title game in December. Let's take a look at what to expect from a talented Oklahoma State team:
Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace have moved on to the NFL, but talent remains on the Oklahoma State offense. Spencer Sanders is in his 3rd year as the starter at quarterback and still posses one of the best arms in the Big 12. Sanders has thrown for 781 yards in 4 games (he missed the season opener) and 5 touchdowns. One of the biggest question marks for Sanders since he's become the starting QB has been his decision making, and that question has lingered into this year. He is only completing 58% of his passes on the season and has the tendency to turn the ball over in critical moments. He tossed 3 interceptions against Baylor two weeks ago and has struggled at times when he's forced off his primary read.
At running back, Utah State transfer Jaylen Warren has been a godsend for a position room that has been hampered by injuries. LD Brown figured to carry a heavy load for the Cowboys offense this year, but he was injured early in the year and Warren has taken over. In the past 3 games, Warren has averaged 32 carries and has collected 4 touchdowns. Mike Gundy made a comment earlier this week that he did not want to get into a shootout with Texas, so expect Warren to be featured on Saturday.
Tay Martin has taken over the number 1 WR role left behind by Wallace. Martin has 21 receptions on the season for 317 yards and a pair of TD's. Martin stands at 6'3 and posses the ability to win one on one battles. Brennan Presley is the only other receiver with double digit receptions on the season with 12.
The Oklahoma State offensive line has had up and down performances throughout the season. Guard Josh Sills has been the most steady performer but the rest of the unit has been inconsistent. Both starting tackles are redshirt sophomores and can be shaky in pass protection at times.
Oklahoma State might have the best defense in the Big 12. The Cowboys have a ton of multi-year starters who can make plays. It all starts with middle linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez, who has 54 tackles on the season and is all over the field. He does an excellent job of finding the ball and is very tough to block at the second level. Fellow linebacker Devin Harper is active as well and has notched 29 tackles.
On the backend, Kolby Harvell-Peel is one of the best safeties in the league and is joined by fellow senior Tanner McCalister. Corners Christian Holmes and Jarrick Bernard-Converse are experienced players who are fairly sound in the passing game. This is going to be a much better secondary than the Longhorns faced in the Cotton Bowl a week ago, but the Longhorns might be able to find more success on the ground than they did against the Sooners.
Along the defensive line, Oklahoma State really misses defensive end Trace Ford, who tore his ACL in early September. In his place, defensive coordinator has utilized freshman Collin Oliver. The Cowboys are averaging over 3 sacks a game, which puts him in the top 20 in the country, but much of the production came against Missouri State and Tulsa (7 sacks combined).
This is going to be a much better secondary than the Longhorns faced in the Cotton Bowl a week ago, but the Longhorns should be able to find more success on the ground than they did against the Sooners.
Oklahoma State is going to make Texas prove they can stop the run. The Longhorns have given up at least 300 yards rushing twice already this season and the Cowboys have shown a commitment to running the ball. Mike Gundy would have no issues with Spencer Sanders only throwing 20 passes and leaving Austin with a victory.
For Texas offensively, they will have to protect much better than they did in the second half against Oklahoma State. It appears Kyle Flood and Steve Sarkisian and making several tweaks along the offensive line. If Texas continues to struggle up front, Oklahoma State has the athletes to give the Longhorns offense a lot of trouble.